June 16, 2021

France and the reasonable dream of a third title

With him, looks have changed. Since the unexpected return of Karim Benzema after a five-year term away from the Blues, the word is spread in Europe to hang on the back of the France team a favorite sign visible from the window of the Commander’s International Space Station Pesquet. “The favorite team of this Euro, by its individual and collective quality and the number of great players it has, is France! “, assures Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. “The favorite is France”, engages Joachim Löw, coach of Germany, first opponent of the Blues on June 15, in Munich.

So, Hugo Lloris already feels floating like the beginning of euphoria, and this is not to reassure the man with 101 selections as captain. “There are a lot of talents but matches are won on the pitch, not on paper. We do not let ourselves be distracted by what is said outside ”, calms the goalkeeper when it comes to attacking his third European Championship.

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Unparalleled on the continent, the Benzema-Mbappé-Griezmann trio (which scores 88 goals this season in club) is a machine of fantasies and promises. With him, France has a dissuasive potential, but still perfectible without any other experience than two preparation matches against Wales and Bulgaria.

Before Didier Deschamps and the Real Madrid striker finally found the time to have a coffee “For a long explanation”, the Blues were not quite the first beauty prizes – and they are not yet – if we focus on their spring outings during qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.

Despite the points taken (seven in three games), the coach did not taste the content at the time. Above all, offensive animation. The eternal pragmatist also knows how to detach himself from the raw result. His analysis will push him to accelerate the reconciliation with Benzema after years of quarrel and unspoken.

A raised first round

At 33, the Lyonnais does not land like the messiah either. From him, we ask that he put oil in the cogs and bring a hint of talent in addition. But even in his absence, the reigning world champions posted an average level high enough to protect themselves from a nasty surprise against most teams.

Not against all of them. Didier Deschamps has been familiar with the density of European football, the sole supplier of world champions since 2006. “Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal and England. Thanks to their level, all these countries are able to win a European Championship or a World Cup ”, advance the boss of the Blues, winner of the 2000 edition as captain.

And in this club of six, the luck of the draw placed two in the path of its players in the first round. In addition to the Mannschaft, Portugal – third opponent on June 23 – points in this group F with Hungary which has for it to evolve in Budapest. The defending champion has never had so many assets to surround the stainless Cristiano Ronaldo (fifth participation in a Euro at 36) but his collective expression remains hesitant.

Should we fear an industrial accident? In theory yes. But with its jump to 24 teams in 2016, the first round of the European Nations Championship offers a safety net with four of the best thirds qualifying for the eighth. Five years ago, Portugal had also proved that this draft status could lead to the royal road. Didier Deschamps has not forgotten it and still sees the images of this post leaving André-Pierre Gignac in the final or Eder coming out of the sidelines to change the fate of his selection.

That of the Blues remains to be written. The last line would be to join, on July 11, at Wembley Stadium in London, the Platini (1984) and Zidane (2000) generations at the top of Europe. Neither a dream nor a certainty, but rather a reasonable possibility.

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